Tattersalls 2016: The George Mernagh Memorial CIC3* Star Preview

Before the introduction of the CCI3*, this class was the main event at Tattersalls. It started in 2008 as part of the World Cup series and was won first by Capt. Geoff Curran and then by Patricia Ryan. In 2010, Oliver Townend ended the streak for the home nation and won the class consecutively for two years. Camilla Speirs regained the title for Ireland in 2012 before the southern hemisphere took over the reins with wins for Bill Levett (AUS) in 2013, Tim Price (NZL) in 2014 and Sir Mark Todd (NZL) in 2015.

Ireland will look to maintain their tradition of winning the title in Olympic years, a trend that may well continue as they once again field their main Olympic contenders. The top two Irish combinations from the George Mernagh Memorial CIC3* have both gone on to contest the Games when previously used as a trial run, so spectators can expect Olympic fever to kick-off at the Ratoath venue. With the exception of New Zealander Tim Price who will look to regain his crown, the stats all point to the home nation once again.

It’s a common theme at Tattersalls that a good first phase is vital to be a contender. The past four winners all came from the top two places after dressage. This plays right into the hands of Aoife Clark and the stunning Fernhill Adventure who has produced scores of 36.2 and 36.6 on his last two starts.

Those scores put him comfortably ahead of his rivals here, but Tim Price’s Ringwood Sky Boy and Jonty Evans’ Cooley Rorkes Drift could both be threatening the very low 40’s on recent evidence. The former has excellent four star form and his 12 month average finishing score of 43.2 is the best in the field.

At EquiRatings, we expect this to be a hugely competitive battle, particularly if Aoife Clark allows the others to get within touching distance. On dressage and show jumping figures, Horseware Lukeswell is next best for the Irish, but he will need to return to the cross country form produced at the European Championships and put recent faults behind him.

Mark Kyle (Jemilla), Clare Abbott (Euro Prince) and Padraig McCarthy (Simon Porloe & Bernadette Utopia) all have a first phase trending in the 40s and are more than capable of following up in the jumping phases. McCarthy has only contested 11 CIC3* competitions in his career, but he completed all of them with a clear cross country and comes here fresh from his first win at the level from Chatsworth.

Austin O’Connor’s Kilpatrick Knight will be making his 5th appearance at the venue in as many years. They have a recent dip in form to turn around, but their 100% clear cross country record at Tatts will stand to them, and their four completions thus far at the venue average a very respectable finishing score of 52.5. Australian Bill Levett has a good Tatts record with three top-five finishes from six runs, but his mount Scarlett O Tara will need to find some show jumping form to challenge here.

Jock Paget and Sam Watson are the only two riders with three CIC3* wins to their name in the past six years; the former comes here with Angus Blue who steps up to this level for the first time. Watson’s  Horseware Bushman is at the opposite end of the spectrum; he’s 17 years old and accounts for two of the riders wins at this level.

The conclusion here is that 10 of these horses are averaging in the 40s on their first phase, and all of them have the capabilities to finish on that score. Eight of those horses will carry the Irish flag with the one spoiler for the host nation likely to be the 2014 champion Tim Price (NZL).

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